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What is Cupping Massage Therapy?

Cupping therapy is a safe and effective treatment born from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) philosophy that helps to remove toxins from the body, loosen connective tissue or fascia to help relieve muscle tension and pain and so much more. A lot of the pain and discomfort we experience physically, mentally and emotionally is due to build up with in our bodies. TCM teaches that it is the stagnation of the life force that drives every activity in organic life forms and blood, that causes pain and disease. Cupping aids in releasing that for a more balanced body, mind and spirit.

How Does Cupping Therapy Work?

Cupping therapy utilizes small silicon, plastic or glass cups to create suction on the skin. A suction device is attached to the cup after it is placed on the skin to remove oxygen which draws the tissue up into the cup. The main principle is to create a surge of blood flow beneath the cup to bring fresh, oxygen-rich blood cells along with white blood cells and pain relief receptors so localized healing can take place. Once the suction has occurred, the cups can be held in place or gently glided across the skin. “Where there’s stagnation, there will be pain. Remove the stagnation, and you remove the pain.”

 

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 What Are The Benefits of Cupping?

This Traditional Chinese Medicine practice, offers an array of benefits to every system in the body. Here are just a few of the wonderful benefits of cupping:

  • Stretching and softening bound fascia and muscles to release tension, pain and stiffness
  • Faster pain relief and localized healing

  • Helps reduce stress and anxiety by calming the nervous system
  • Cupping removes toxins and improves blood flow, which aids in ailments caused by chronic inflammation
  • Affects the digestive system which can help improve metabolism, relief from constipation, a healthy appetite, and stronger digestion
  • Reduces scars and old adhesions by separating " stuck " tissue layers

Is Cupping Right For Me?

Cupping Contraindications

Avoid cupping if you experience:

  • Bleeding disorders like hemophilia
  • Bruise easily
  • Are in your 1st trimester or high risk pregnancy
  • Blood clotting problems, such as deep vein thrombosis or history of strokes
  • Have cancer or have had cancer within the last five years
  • High blood pressure
  • Skin conditions, including eczema and psoriasis
  • Seizures (epilepsy)

 

Cupping is a relatively low-risk therapy. Still, you may experience:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension or soreness
  • Nausea
  • Itching where the cups were placed

Cupping Massage At Aligned One Wellness

Cupping is usually put into two categories; wet and dry. Dry cupping involves the suction of the skin into the cup. Wet cupping has one extra step in which an incision is made, and blood is drawn from the suctioned area. A cupping massage therapy treatment at Aligned One Wellness uses the dry cupping method of air cupping mixed with therapeutic massage performed by a Registered Massage Therapist to positively affect the nervous, digestive, muscular, skeletal, and circulatory systems as well as the skin in a variety of ways.

What To Expect During Your Cupping Massage

After completing your health history form, your Registered Massage Therapist will go over your needs, concerns and questions before getting on the massage table. Expect your sessions to feel like your usual massage therapy treatment with the added bonus of cups. If it's your first time receiving cupping therapy, your therapist will only use a few cups to start. As mentioned, we use air cupping at Aligned One Wellness. Your therapist will warm up the area with some Swedish massage techniques before placing the cups on your skin. Depending on your goals, the cups may remain in one place while another area is being treated (stationary cupping), or your therapist may glide the cups around the area. Once the cups are applied they can be left on for various amounts of time depending on client goals, comfort, and tissue health, but are generally left on for up to 15 minutes.

Does Cupping Hurt?

Most say a cupping massage feels just like a deep tissue massage. It is quite common for the client to experience a “tightness” or “pulling” of the tissue upward as well as a strong sense of warmth in the areas treated due to the increased blood flow and separated layers of tissue. The use of cupping massage should be relaxing, not painful so if you do feel discomfort it is important let your therapist know so they can adjust the suction or discontinue the use of the cups.

 

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How To Prepare For Cupping Massage

  • Hydrate. Cupping supports your lymphatic system. Your lymphatic system clears away cellular waste from your body and it needs plenty of water to do this effectively.

  • Make sure you're well rest before your appointment.

  • Don’t shave the area within twelve hours of your appointment.

  • Recover from sunburn. When you receive cupping, it will feel like that area is warmer than normal. Neither the cup nor the extra heat will feel good on sunburned skin.

  • Don’t exfoliate aggressively. Exfoliating removes a layer of dead skin, which makes your skin extra sensitive. Wait a couple days after aggressive exfoliation treatment before receiving cupping.

Cupping After Care

For 4-6 hours post cupping, avoid exposure to: 

  • Caffeine, alcohol, sugary foods and drinks, dairy, and processed meats. These foods slow down your body’s ability to process the treatment.

  • Hot showers, saunas, hot tubs and strong air conditioning. After cupping, your skin will be more sensitive to temperature in the areas where the cups were placed. Give your skin time to recover.

  • Intense exercise

  • Cold and windy conditions

 

After cupping, your skin will have circular marks ranging in color from pink to deep red or purple. Discolorations from cupping will fade. Some may fade after a few hours while others take up to two weeks to disappear completely. The discolorations are related to your body’s health at the time of cupping. If you’d like those marks to go away faster, do two things: hydrate and rest. Everyone’s body responds differently to cupping. If you have any questions either before or after a cupping appointment, please contact Susan Doucette, RMT via email at susan@alignedonewellness.ca or call (647) 448-7663.

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 Sources

  • https://www.medicinenet.com/cupping/article.htm
  • https://www.sageandspry.com/cupping
  • http://www.evesalonspa.com/cupping
  • https://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/blog/2014/09/20/many-benefits-chinese-cupping-1
  • https://www.activeapproach.ca/cupping/
  • https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/16554-cupping